Mario Cipollini has confirmed he will give the young Russian riders at the Katusha team a ‘master class’ in sprinting, teaching them the secrets and skills of a successful leadout train that helped him win so much during his own career.
The 2002 world road race champion will be a consultant with the Katusha team but will not work with the team’s leading riders after Filippo Pozzato made it clear he had no need of his advice. In the past Cipollini has criticised Pozzato, saying he should work harder if he wants to win more races.
However Katusha team manager Andrei Tchmil wanted Cipollini to work with his riders. The two rode together at the GB-MG Maglificio team in 1992 and 1993 and share a hard-nosed approach to racing.
“I’ll be a consultant to the team, with the specific role of helping develop the young Russian sprinters in the team,” Cipollini told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“l’ll start off quietly and with respect for everybody else’s roles within the team. Nobody knows the young riders but the team management is betting on them doing well and I’ve got to help them develop.”
“I’ll offer my experience and teach them how to set up a lead out train and finish off the job. I’ll be giving a master class in sprinting. To direct a train a sprinter needs charisma as well as excellent ability.”
Cipollini will join the Katusha team at their winter training in Calpe, Spain in December and then work with the Continental and Under 23 teams in Cyprus, Greece.
“Most of my work will be between now and February. When the race calendar gets under way, my work will be done and hopefully the team will know how to carry on without me.”
Pozzato against Cipollini’s arrival
Cipollini won a massive 191 races during his 16-year career. He retired in 2005 and initially worked with the Liquigas team but then made a brief comeback with Michael Ball’s controversial Rock Racing outfit. He rode the 2008 Tour of California, going close to winning a stage in Sacramento but finally retired in the spring after falling out with Ball over funding.
He has recently developed a line of MCipollini bikes and clothing and supplied the ISD-Neri team in 2010. But he has parted ways with the Italian squad and will the bike company will sponsor a women’s team in 2011.
Tchmil was hoping Cipollini could help Pozzato win more but he insisted he does not need Cipollini’s help in his recent Cyclingnews blog and directeur sportif Serge Parsani also questioned the idea.
“I don’t think they’ve got anything against me,” Cipollini said diplomatically. “I’ve criticised Pippo in the past but surely in 2010 everyone has a right to express their opinions. It’s important to respect each other and I hope I haven’t offended him.”
“At Liquigas there weren’t any big sprinters but most of all I needed to get away from the sport. I didn’t give a lot and didn’t get a lot.”
“I was only the bike supplier at ISD and we soon went our separate ways. I made myself available but I don’t think the riders or the staff wanted to take advantage. But if I was a rider and could work with someone like Cipollini, I’d have jumped at the chance.”